Ambulance. Photo Credit: Scott Sanchez on Wikimedia Commons

A head-on crash on a rural highway near Pala Casino left two people dead Wednesday and a DUI suspect under arrest, authorities reported.

The fatal wreck occurred shortly after midnight, when a Nissan Xterra heading east on state Route 76 veered into a westbound lane at Pala Mission Road, directly into the path of an oncoming Toyota RAV4, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The resulting collision mortally injured the 65-year-old Vista man behind the wheel of the Toyota and a 59-year-old woman riding in it, CHP public-affairs Officer Hunter Gerber said.

The victims, whose names were withheld pending family notification, died at the scene of the crash.

A pit bull was also injured in the collision and was taken by an Animal Resource Officer from Escondido, the CHP said.

Paramedics took the man who had been driving the Nissan, 43-year-old Jesus Munoz of Vista, to a trauma center for treatment of serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Munoz was arrested at the hospital on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and “homicide-related charges,” Gerber said.

Updated at 3:13 p.m. Sept. 20, 2023

–City News Service